Kenya’s nuclear energy bid received a major boost after signing an agreement with the Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO).
The company and the Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB) signed an MoU to cooperate on construction of nuclear projects and sharing expertise. Kenya aims to add nuclear power with a capacity of 4,000 megawatts by 2033. In the deal, South Korea has agreed to train a further three Kenyans in nuclear electricity generation. Collins Juma, the acting chief executive of Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board, signed the understanding with four South Korean nuclear institutions in Seoul.
The deal between KNEB and KEPCO, Korea Nuclear Association for International Cooperation (KNAIC) and the KEPCO International Graduate School (KINGS) was witnessed by Energy & Petroleum Cabinet Secretary, Charles Keter. The Kenyan team was on a four-day tour where the partnership would enable Kenya obtain expertise from South Korea through capacity building, specialised training and skills development. This trip included a visit to Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction Company and the Kori Nuclear Power Plant Complex in Busan.
This development comes in the wake of an agreement signed between Kenya’s Ministry of Energy and Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy in May 2016 during the visit by President Park Geun-hye to Kenya. That agreement facilitated the exchange of technical information, specialists as well as training opportunities for Kenyans in Korea’s vast nuclear power industry.
KNEB is preparing feasibility study to identify suitable potential sites for nuclear power plants. As part of the partnership with South Korea, 16 Kenya students have been enrolled over the past three years for masters courses in Nuclear Power Engineering.
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Other than the agreement with South Korea, Kenya has previously signed nuclear power cooperation pacts with Russia, China and Slovakia. Kenya plans to set up a first nuclear power plant with a capacity of 1000MW by 2027. This is expected to rise to 4000MW by 2033 making nuclear electricity a key component of the country’s energy mix which is projected will be about 20,000MW in total.
Kenya currently has an installed capacity of 2300MW. South Korea on the other hand currently generates 20,000MW from nuclear power, which accounts for 22 per cent of its total electricity generation capacity.
Earlier this year, the International Atomic Energy Agency gave a positive review of the progress of Kenya’s nuclear power programme, while recommending that a regulatory body should be set up as soon as possible.
Blackouts are common in Kenya, partly because of an ageing energy network and insufficient generation capacity. Many businesses in Nairobi and other big towns operate back-up generators.
South Korea, the world’s fifth-biggest user of nuclear power, has developed its own nuclear industry, constructing and operating its reactors through KEPCO. A KEPCO-led consortium in 2009 won a contract to build four nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates, which are under construction.